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Red Bag Recovered from One-Time Raleigh Manor

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

SURREY, ENGLAND—The Guardian reports that a red silk velvet bag that may have once held the severed head of Sir Walter Raleigh after he was executed for treason has been discovered in the attic of West Horsley Place. This was once the home of Carew Raleigh, Sir Walter's son. After Raleigh was beheaded in 1618 at Whitechapel, London, his body is said to have been removed from the execution site and buried in St. Margaret’s Church in Westminster. Less clear is what happened to his head. According to some accounts, it was turned over to Raleigh's widow, Elizabeth Throckmorton, who stored it in a red bag until her death. Historical records also indicate the head was eventually buried in 1660 with the remains of Carew Raleigh’s three children, who died in an epidemic. Peter Pearce, director of the Mary Roxburghe Trust, which manages West Horsley Place, said the red velvet bag will be analyzed for possible connections to Raleigh. However, it had been presumed that Raleigh’s head was buried along with its bag in 1660. Historian Anna Beer also has doubts, noting that a range of myths have attached themselves to the dashing explorer, soldier, and courtier since his death. To read about analysis of items associated with the death of Belgium's King Albert I, go to “The Blood of the King.”

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